January 20, 2006
TAHC proposes premises
During a December meeting of the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), TAHC officials proposed regulations for Texas' premises and animal identification program. Now the ball is in the court of Texas livestock producers, who have 45 days from publication in the Texas Register to submit comments.
The regulations were proposed in response to House Bill 1361, passed by the Texas Legislature in its last regular session. The bill authorizes the TAHC to develop and implement an animal identification system consistent with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Animal Identification System (NAIS). HB 1361 (Chapter 161.056 of the Texas Agriculture Code) also authorizes the TAHC to determine when premises identification will be required and to assess and collect fees for premises registration.
As the NAIS is phased in, the TAHC's program also will evolve. TAHC commissioners have proposed regulations at this time for premises identification only. Premises identification is the foundation for all other components of the NAIS, officials said.
Dates to remember
Prior to July 1, 2006, premises in Texas may be registered at no charge, and the premises identification number will remain valid through June 30, 2008. Although the seven-character premises identification number will not change, the premises registration must be renewed July 1, 2008, and every 24 months thereafter. At renewal, the proposed regulations provide for a yearly premises registration fee of $10, paid biennially. The $20 two-year registration fee is to be submitted to the TAHC at the time of registration renewal.
On July 1, 2006, premises registration will be compulsory in Texas. All persons who own, manage or are caretakers for locations where livestock, exotic livestock, poultry, or exotic poultry are handled, must register their premises with the TAHC and submit the $20 two-year fee. Renewal and fee payment will be required every 24 months thereafter.
Information collected by the TAHC for premises or animal identification is exempt from public disclosure requirements under the Texas Public Information Act. Although the TAHC commissioners always urge voluntary compliance with agency regulations, the proposals include penalties for noncompliance.
NAIS basics detailed
The goal of the NAIS is to enable animal health officials to identify locations where infected or exposed animals have been and to track animal movement from those locations within 48 hours, in the event of an animal disease outbreak. Three main components comprise the system:
Premises identification defines a geographic site, such as ranches, farms, feedlots, livestock markets, slaughter establishments, rendering or carcass collection points, veterinary clinics, livestock shows, fair or exhibition sites, quarantine facilities, laboratories, ports of entry, or other facilities where animals are handled. These include cattle, horses, mules, asses, sheep, goats and hogs; exotic livestock; domestic fowl, such as chickens, turkeys, and game birds; and poultry and exotic fowl.
The premises number is a unique seven-character code, issued by the TAHC or USDA. Owners or managers can register their premises and obtain the unique code online at the TAHC web site at http://www.tahc.state.tx.us. Applications also may be obtained at many Cooperative Extension offices, livestock markets, veterinary clinics or from livestock and poultry associations. As of early December, more than 4,200 premises in Texas had been registered. In the U.S. (including Texas), about 160,000 have been registered.
A person who owns or manages two or more locations and commingles animals may register the locations under one premises number. However, if a person maintains livestock on multiple locations but does not commingle the animals, then each location should be registered separately.
Animal identification, when implemented, will require that certain species of animals are tagged with a uniquely numbered 15-digit electronic identification device when they are moved from their herd of origin, or are commingled with animals from other premises. The device is intended to remain with the animal for life. If a device is lost, the animal can be retagged.
Under the national animal identification system (NAIS), still in development, premises numbers will NOT be imprinted on the animal identification devices. The unique seven-character premises identification and the 15-digit animal identification device number will correlate only in records. Each animal identification device will be individually numbered.
In the NAIS, some species, such as commercially produced swine or poultry, may be identified by group/lot numbers, provided the animals are held and managed as a group throughout the pre-harvest production process.
Animal tracking, the final component of the national plan, will involve recording and reporting those animals moved, sold, commingled or slaughtered. This component, when implemented, will enable efficient tracing of animals for disease eradication efforts.
For additional NAIS information and links, visit the TAHC web site at:
Comments regarding the TAHC's proposed premises rules must be received by 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6. Submit to firstname.lastname@example.org; fax to 512/719-0721; or mail to: Delores Holubec, TAHC, Box 12966, Austin, TX 78711-2966.
The entire text of the rule proposal may be viewed online at: http://www.sos.state.tx.us/texreg/sos/PROPOSED/4.AGRICULTURE.html.
Kansas FB offers new animal ID tool
Curiosity is building among livestock producers across the country about a new animal identification tool from Agriculture Solutions, a division of Kansas Farm Bureau, that will allow them to fulfill consumer meat traceability expectations and get a head start on animal identification compliance.
Showcased during a seminar at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual convention, the new Beef Verification Solution (http://www.agsolusa.com/bvs/ ) offers customized information management solutions that enable beef producers to collect individual animal information, connect to other segments of the livestock industry, comply with regulatory identification programs and improve their livestock operations.
According to Mark Nelson, an Agriculture Solutions economist who helped design the Beef Verification Solution, the tool allows producers to improve the daily management of their livestock operation through better information and analysis. He told livestock producers they can use the new system to enhance herd management through source verification and maximize the value of animal genetics.
As the USDA's National Animal Identification System (NAIS) evolves, Nelson said Beef Verification Solution will be flexible enough to adapt. Likewise, as the marketplace demands animal traceability to satisfy consumer demands, Beef Verification Solution will position livestock producers to take advantage of new market opportunities. The Beef Verification Solution system also will offer services for multiple animal species as those needs evolve.